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The Dual Nature of Man in Young Goodman Brown Essay

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The Dual Nature of Man in "Young Goodman Brown"


In "Young Goodman Brown," Hawthorne tells the story of one man’s loss of faith in the human race. As Goodman Brown travels into the woods one night, he is sees the innermost secrets and desires of the people he once placed upon a pedestal. He sees that humans are evil by nature, and this causes him to lose faith in his fellow man. By viewing the story as an allegory, the journey into the woods is associated with the Puritan concept of justification. The Puritans viewed justification, or the means by which one receives the salvation of Christ, as a psychological journey into the "hell (or evil) of the self" (Soler). Goodman Brown fails to complete his process of individuation because he cannot come to terms with the dual Apollonian and Dionysian nature of his being.

The Puritans believed that to be justified, one must let go of his worldly dependence and strive to live a life free of sin (Soler), making the story an allegory “in its treatment of the nature and consequences of the Puritan belief in the total depravity of man” (Waggoner 250). This would have had an impact on the development of the psyche, as the ego struggled to repress certain instincts that the superego deemed as sinful based on Puritanical beliefs.

To understand the effects that Puritanism has on the psyche, one must also realize that Puritanism depraved the human spirit of both Dionysian and Apollonian instincts. Even though it favored Apollonian in the sense that it supported a distancing from the world, it does not support the development of the individual, which is associated with Apollo. Puritan Society frowned upon expressing one’s individuality (that is why, besides the obvious dishonor, wea...


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... The Continuum Publishing Company, New York, 1995.
Soler, Angie. "The Journey Into the Puritan Heart: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ‘Young Goodman Brown’" Dr. Jim Wohlpart. American Literature and Analysis Web Site. Florida Gulf Coast University. 1998.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown and Other Short Stories. Appelbaum, Stanley, ed. Dover Thrift Edition. General Publishing Company, Canada. 1992.
Martin, Terence. Nathaniel Hawthorne. Revised Edition. Twayne’s United States Authors Series. G.K. Hall & Company. Massachusetts. 1983.
Foster, Jr., John Burt. Heirs to Dionysus: A Nietzschean Current in Literary Modernism. Princeton University Press. New Jersey. 1981.
Male, Roy R. Hawthorne’s Tragic Vision. University of Texas Press. Austin. 1957.
Waggoner, Hyatt H. Hawthorne: A Critical Study. Harvard University Press. Massachusetts. 1955.


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